Monday, 13 July 2009

French do well at Tour de France shock!

Amazing isn't it.

A week and a bit in, a French team in yellow and three stage wins by Frenchmen, that's riders born in France, who hold real French passports and everything.
Just imagine the odds you'd have got on that 10 days ago?

4 more years, 4 more years, 4 more years.

Is the chant as Uncle Pat is re-elected to the post of 'Man behind the desk' at the UCI.
“I think it’s healthy that there’s only one candidate as it shows that the other continents outside of Europe are satisfied with how the UCI is working, and that the most important continent, Europe, is also satisfied and doesn’t want division,” Says Uncle Pat.
Well that's one way of looking at it, there is, as always an alternative view. Lets say you're walking along the street and you see a man with a dog, the dog stops, squats down and deposits a giant steaming turn on the pavement. Do you rush up to the owner saying 'Here, mate, let me pick up that giant steaming turd .' or do you walk past shaking your head and thinking 'rather you than me'. IMHO that's pretty much the situation with world cycling, it's steaming a bit and no one will go near it except for the dog owner.

Oh and since when has having only one candidate been healthy?

Radio is cleaning up the nation. They say you'd better listen to the voice of reason, but they don't give you any choice cos they think that's it is treason.

Or so sang Mr Elvis Costello. And so said Mr Johan Bruyneel. Didn't the teams agree to the two no radio days a month or so back? So why wait until the Tour has actually started to get teams to sign a petition? Would it not have been possible to start a discussion back in June when the radioless days were initially announced and then by all means if there was a stalemate and teams / riders were still unhappy, then stage a protest?
That would have seen the sensible option, but this is cycling and the sensible option is often a foreign country. So Bruyneel runs around the night before the stage with a sheet of A4 getting team managers to sign on the dotted line, well that's good use of the time of one of the worlds most powerful managers.

But of course the event wasn't handled well by anybody, as usual cycling officialdom seems unable to start a coherent dialogue with anyone and planning and communication don't seem to enter their minds. Meanwhile there are knee jerk reactions and protests in response. This whole affair should have been in discussion from the start of the season, or last season or whenever, there should have been meetings and the case for and against radios should have been made and being cycling a compromise would have been reached. Instead though we have the riders getting an extra days recovery (I doubt they mind) and the sport looks like a fool in the eye's of the worlds press.

This is exactly the reason why having only one candidate for Uncle Pats job is a bad idea.


Rest Day is the best day to talk bollocks

Monday - a day to put your feet up, a day to spin out those legs with a few easy miles, a day to talk to the press and tell them how great you are, how much your team loves you, a day to tell the world how great you are, a day to smile at the press and a day to tell the universe how great you are.

Do it yourself Tour de France Press conference.
Can't make it to a Tour press conference? Here's my own 'cut out and keep' DIY make your own press conference kit. Just sit down opposite you favourite invisible friend and utter some of the following phrases for that full Tour press fest effect.

There is no disharmony in the team
We are riding for each other
The best rider will be team leader
I'm feeling strong
I'm coming back next year
I may not win but I'm coming back next year
I will overcome any disharmony to finish strongly and come back next year
With my own team
That will do exactly as the management, sorry, as I say
And they won't ask any questions
And now if you could please form a queue
It's kissy kissy time

Next year you'll want one of these, no seriously you will.

This is a bicycle, a bicycle made by Giant, a bicycle approved by the UCI.

Well the first 2 statements are true. The third is open to question, Giant have said it's approved by the UCI, but the question is who did they ask? Cos you can bet you bottom Euro that if they'd have asked two members of the UCI technical committee they would have got 2 different answers. Still, it's a beauty eh?
Oh you think not?
Pierre-Henri Medas, Giant’s Global Road Category Manager says: “..the bike would be built solely for function, without concern about design aesthetics." So let's get one thing straight here, Giant have a job title that is Global Road Category Manager? Is that one of those management jobs where they stuck a load of words in a hat, pulled a few out at random and bingo, that's your job title?

Now it's all well and good making a bike that is built for function, but come on, for the average punter, the average weekend warrior function doesn't really come into it.
As long as it's basically bike shape we're happy. Function and UCI approval fall a long way behind aesthetics. What's the point of having a bike that is so functional that other cyclists piss them selves laughing when you ride by? What's the point of having a bike so functional that you develop the nickname 'twatty' as a result of riding it? What's the point of having a bike that's so ugly that you're embarrassed to be seen riding it? What's the point of having a bike that you don't want to shag?

Surely the only consideration when buying a bike is what does it look like? Colour, aesthetic lines, angles and finish are the only things that matter.
Oh and there are a few other points as well here.
One: if you're crap at TTing, you will still be crap, perhaps a couple of seconds faster, but still crap.
Two: If you don't train properly ie. specifically for your TT event then it ain't gonna make a dead fish of a difference what you ride.
Three: Giant say: it 'puts the rider in the most aerodynamic position of any bike currenly on the market'. Er no, sorry, but no! A bike will not put a rider in the most aerodynamic position it may well allow a rider to attain the best aero position for them, but that's it. If you want a great aero position get into a wind tunnel, or employ a good coach. The assumption from Giant is that low is best, low = faster. Well not always. You can get low, but if you have a curved back and you get too low you will disrupt the air flow and actually get more drag (ie. go slower) that if you had a more upright position.

Any news on the Sky team?

Er not yet


Sunday, 12 July 2009

Whatever happened to Cycling dot TV?

Now it's not beta it's turned to shit!

Are you feeling old? Do you sit around with you're mates and talk about the good old days? Do you reminisce about the bikes you rode and the races you watched? Do you hark back to a time when Cycling dot TV actually showed bike races and didn't seem to exist solely to take the piss?

I've always had a love hate relationship with CTV, I've loved the fact that I could watch bike races that I might not otherwise get to see (not having a satellite dish) and I've loved the cometary team (when Duffield wasn't included).
I've hated the way way it was difficult to find races on the back catalogue, hated the way the search function simply didn't work and hated the way Ivan Basso was continually trying to sell me a sodding Canondale.

But now all the love has gone, flushed away like EPO down the toilet when the testers come a'calling. So what's gone wrong? Well it seemed to start this year, suddenly races that used to be available were 'not available in your country'.
Each week I'd get an email telling me that exciting Pro Tour races were available and all I had to do was click on the link and log on. Except when I did click on the link and log on I got the 'not available in your country' tag. Now they know which country I live in, they have my membership details but they still send me emails telling me that the world of Pro cycling was just a click away, providing I change country that is.

Of course it is worth pointing out that the 'not available in your country' tag doesn't appear until you've wasted 20 seconds of your life watching one of their adverts :)

So what races are available? Well you have to go back to April to find anything that is available in my country. May? Nope, June? Don't think so, July? It's an empty cupboard. And don't bother looking ahead either, the upcoming events tab on the site is as empty as a Spanish fridge after the dope testers have visited.

Still, more fool me, pay out for 12 months of bike racing and get 7. Still more fool CTV - subscription cancelled and blog posts advising everyone else to do the same.


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

YES it's an irregular course, its a bike RACE

Looks like the toys have been thrown out of the pram again.

One of the records broken this year has been the record for riders complaining about race routes. As with so much in pro cycling Lancey boy kicked of the latest trend by complaining that various elements of the Giro course were too steep too ride down, too twisty and turney and littered with burnt out cars. And yesterday at El Tour de la France there was complaints about the TTT course that to be honest amounted to the biggest level of toys out of the pram bollocks I've ever come across.
We have bikes worth 10,000 Euro, and in the end we can't use them properly because we're just busy trying to hold balance instead of putting our power on the pedals, Said Jens V, now I'm a huge fan of the Jenster, he's an outstanding rider, but come on Jens lighten up.
A TTT course should be about racing as a team, about cohesion, tactics and IMHO about bike handling skills as that team in a variety of conditions. I'm from the UK and I am not a tester and every time I see a long straight dead flat TT course my blood runs cold, so maybe I'm biased, ah well....
Oh, 10,000 bikes, maybe they were too expensive? Maybe not the right bit of kit? I dunno, next time try a 7005 / 105 combo :)

Indeed Lancey boys point about dangerous corners at the Giro may have been valid, sharp corners on a downhill are a risk, but the question is, are they an acceptable risk? I have no idea to be honest, but any turn in the road that's not up hill can be a risk if you're racing on the edge, if you're pushing it to make or take time. So lets get the men in their fluro tabards with tape measures and speed guns stopping the peloton every Kilo to make sure there there's no danger.


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Boy Racer and other tales.

Boy racer by name, boy racer by nature.

The mighty Cav's first foray into the land of Shakespeare and Chekhov is 'Boy Racer' now whilst no one turns into a donkey (though I suspect that there are some Cav would wish that on) and whilst it will never be claimed a literary classic it is a bloody good read (as they say).
I had a concern that it may well have been edited or ghosted to a point where what you got was far removed from what you wanted, ie full on Cavness. But no worries on that score, like it's author it delivers and what it delivers is highly entertaining.
It's genuine Cav, straight talking, open honest, heart on the sleeve stuff. You won't learn anything new, well you might learn a bit about some inter BC relationships, which may or may not count, but what you will get is highly entertaining. Cav is what the popular press call 'a character' and this book is full of that character. He tells it as he sees it and that for me is more than enough.

Star rating: 5 out of 5. (and the books bloody good as well)

The Full Cycle - Vin Denson

Before Cav, before Yates and Jones there was Vin Denson.
Vin was a pro back in the 60's, a highly respected domestique and right hand man for Jacques Anquetil, Vin, unlike Cav, was never a true star, but he is still a hero.
The full cycle - the story of Vins life as a bike rider, charts his move from success on the British scene to respect and glory as a continental pro.
Sit down with someone, anyone really and ask them to tell you the story of their life. With luck they will be a natural story teller and you will be captivated by the twists and turns they take to get to the point where they sit before you, Vin is a natural story teller and if he sat with you over a pint or two and recounted his adventures you would hear this book line for line, word for word.

Vin has a great life and a great life is a great tale and a great tale is a great book, easy as that.

Star rating: 5 out of 5.


It's called a bloody bicycle race, the key word here is race.

So conspiracy or cock up? Evil master plan or happy coincidence? Great tactics or rank stupidity? Half a team riding for you and half against you? Half a team riding for you and all the Spaniards against you?
Still, that Cav eh?
Lets go and ride a bike race, lets go and ride a bike race in high cross winds and oh, look, the peloton splits and every body forms echelons, well that is unless you ride in the UK and no one can form an echelon and the roads are tight so basically each echelon is three riders wide, sorry about that. So then, you expect splits in a bike race, you expect well organised teams to take the chance that's plated up for them, wouldn't you? Columbia were at the front getting in position to launch the guided missile to it's chosen target, so when it gets a bit tasty, well, when it gets tasty it's party time.

What's more entertaining is the conspiracy that is Astana, Lancey boy and a couple of his chums were close up to the edge of the action and after sitting in decided to do a little graft. Meanwhile AC (that's Alberto Contador not AC from operation puerto) sat on his arse and did nothing and just to show willing so did the rest of the peloton.
And the gap opens and there you go. From a team perspective Astana come out of it well the rider they had in 10th moves up and from any normal team that would be enough. But of course Astana and normal do not sit well in a sentence, unless the sentence is 'That Astana, not really a normal team is it.'
This is of course why the tours from the last couple of years have been 'boring'. Nothing to do with the racing, that's been exciting enough, riveting even. No, what's been boring is the lack of conspiracy theories, the lack of teams turning in on them selves and ripping each other to shreds, the lack of TV speculation over secret peloton gangs taking each other on in the mountains, the lack of national allegiances taking precedence over team allegiances. In short what's been 'boring' is the lack of infighting, team v team is getting a bit dull, what we need is a real blood bath and this year it looks like it could be on the cards.


Monday, 6 July 2009

It's Cav, in Lime Green !

The Fruity joys of the Tour de France.

So how was it for you? Was it the best you've ever had?
Hats off to large Fabian, who bucked a decade of fashion failure to keep his black shorts on whist wearing yellow, who says the Swiss have no style?

But whilst we sat in amazement, agog and aghast at Swiss style someone was touching CAV, I'm sorry I'll read that again, according to the Guardian 'Piet Rooijakkers' 'could not help touching Cavendish' Oh errr missus.

Is it just me, perhaps it is, perhaps I need new Specs, but does this years green jersey look a bit more, well, a bit more line green than ever before? Is this some sort of subtle rebranding on the part of ASO? Are they slowly changing the colours of all the jerseys? In 10 years time will we be faced with the Magnolia jersey for young riders? The Pink Poker dot jersey for best climber? The lime green jersey for points winner and the pale Canary jersey for overall winner? That would puncture a few egos.

Remember kids: If you see a floater flush it away.

Now it transpires that through my letter box drops Pro Cycling mag (or Winning for the 21st century as I like to call it) and I have to report that it has gone pretty sharpish into the bin. Not that there's anything wrong with the fine publication, the problem is it contains references to Hein Verbruggen. In fact PC has Verbruggen as the third most powerful man in cycling!

Now let me just run though who Verbruggen is more powerful than:
He's more powerful than 'Big' Dave Brailsford
He's more powerful than Anne Gripper (and just as elusive if you ask me)
He's more powerful than Bob Stapleton
He's more powerful than Mr Shimano
He's more powerful than Vaughters or IOC boss Rogge
He's more powerful than the Poundster or John Fahey
and he's more powerful than Doctor Death.
He's even, and get this, more powerful than Cav, how is this one possible?

And whilst we digest the above (and reach for the ingestion tablets) we should ask exactly what this power is built on.
Is it built on going on holiday whilst the biggest drugs story ever to bugger up out sport hit the front page? (The story was Festina and the holiday destination was India)
Is it built on saying that riders who spoke out against drugs were weak and lazy?
Is it built on denying that there was a doping problem in cycling?
Is it built on taking exactly sod all action to fight doping in the peloton?

Now PC offer 'Unsubstantiated rumours' that he has 'plans to take over the tour or even the whole of professional cycling'.
Now before you start screaming and run out into the garden to bury your bikes, burn your Lycra and take up golf I will point out that these are 'rumours' and that there are 'rumours' that Hitler is still alive and living in South America, so we should take these with a pinch of salt. Although having said that I have put my ear to the ground and off in the distance I too have heard it suggested that Verbruggen is planning a come back.

The thought that Verbruggen could have anything to do with cycling, other than using his bike to ride to the local shops fill me with a horror that could only be matched if I found out I was related to Stefan Schumacher. I firmly believe that one of the reasons why we as a sport are right up the creek of shit, is down to Verbruggen's tenure as head clown at the UCI.


Thursday, 2 July 2009

A snowball in hell.

Ohhh, ohhh they've got a test for a drug we didn't now existed. Apparently the UCI, AFLD et all can now test a cyclist for being a wanker.

The first rider to fall foul of the new test turns out to be Thomas Dekker. As the results of his positive test for being a wanker were made public, Dekker spoke out to confirm the findings, saying:
"How can a sample be negative in 2007 and now suddenly gets tested again? That is wrong."

Er well done Thomas, in one sentence you have confirmed the UCI's findings and confirmed that you are indeed a wanker.

Meanwhile....... Over the border, he boys in light blue and yellow, are rebelling, despite the fact that paying the riders seemed to be an optional extra Astana now seem set to be signing the man who put the word toss in tosspot. Yes Vinokourov is back and it looks like he'll be riding for Astana, or so he thinks. There are rumours, rumours and more rumours that Lancy boy and his bestest chum JB will be out on their ear by August and that they'll be making their own team.
Still I don't doubt that they'll find a sponsor, but riders? August is a wee bit late to be signing riders, that is signing anyone who is any good, unsigned and not tainted by the needle and the blood bank. Still signing riders tainted by the needle doesn't seem to bother most teams. Once upon a time the Pro Tour teams signed a gentleman's agreement saying they wouldn't sign a banned rider for two years after that riders ban ended, of course this lasted about as long as a snow ball in hell and even before the ink was dry Lickey Gas (pronunciation cutesy of Mr David Duffield) had signed up Basso.

Still should Astana sign Vankerourov it will mean an extra place at the Tour for a wild card, so every cloud eh?